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Full text of "Letter to Prof. R.D. Mussey"

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LETTER 



TO 



PKOF. R. D. MUSSEY: 



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J. F. POTTER, M. D 



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V'HigiQ 



CINCINNATI: 

PRINTED BY J. A. & U. P. JAMES, 

1850. 



LETTER 



TO 



PROF. R. D. MUSSEY 



Cincinnati, May 2, 1850. 
Prof. R. D. Mussey: 

Sir: Agreeably to the notification given you in my note 
of the 2d inst., I thus address you. Inasmuch as the note 
referred to contains my reasons for so doing, I will here 
insert it. 



Cincinnati, May 2, 1850. 

Sir : I beg leave to inform you that I purpose sending to the 
press a copy of the charges you preferred against me in the Medico- 
Chirurgical Society — my answers to those charges — together with 
whatever additional evidence I now possess — adding such remarks 
as may seem necessary for a proper understanding of the subject. 

Ever since those charges were made, I have confidently expected 
that a sense of justice would prompt you to make reparation for the 
professional injury you have done me, and of which you must be 
fully sensible. But I have waited in vain. Instead of reparation 
being made, you have been ready at all times to heap injury upon 
injury, thus illustrating the maxim, odisse quern Iceseris. I am, 
therefore, compelled, in justice to myself, to place those charges 
upon record. 



[4] 

The present time I have deemed a proper one, as the National 
Medical Convention is soon to assemble here, where I expect to 
see several of my professional friends, who will be desirous of 
knowing the nature of your charges, and by what testimony they are 
sustained. There is yet another reason. I am unwilling that any 
respectable members of the Convention, or of the profession, 
strangers to me, should have their minds so abused as to suppose 
me capable of doing or saying what would tend to the discredit of 
that profession of which I am proud to be a member. 

I applied to the Medico-Chirurgical Society for a copy of all the 
proceedings in the case, with a view of printing them entire, of 
which fact you must have been informed. My request was not 
granted. 

I am, therefore, necessitated to confine myself to your charges, 
as furnished me by the Committee, a copy of which I fortunately 
preserved. 

Yours, respectfully, 

J . F . POTTER. 
Phof. R. D. Musset. 



In the preliminary observations accompanying my answers 
to your charges, I remarked that, " In order to arrive at just 
conclusions respecting the difficulties existing between Dr. 
Mussey and myself, it will be necessary to understand what 
terms of professional intimacy existed at the time the events 
referred to in the charges occurred. 

It was with much pleasure that I learned of the arrival of 
Dr. M. in Paris, in the spring of 1846. Dr. M. had been one 
of my medical teachers, and for him I cherished a sincere 
respect. I did all in my power to render his visit both agree- 
able>nd profitable. During our friendly intercourse there, 
Dr. M. took occasion to speak favorably of Cincinnati as a 
location for me. 

Soon after my return home, I received a letter from Dr. 
M., dated Nov. 18, 1840, in which he said: « I still believe, as 



[ 5] 

I did when in Paris, that a young man, well educated, indus- 
trious and upright, might ultimately locate himself firmly in 
this city." 

I came here toward the close of Dec, 1846. I met with a 
kind reception from Dr. M. and his former partner, Dr. Wor- 
cester, and through the persuasion of the latter, I was in- 
duced to locate here. 

Dr. M. and myself remained on the most friendly terms, 
up to the period of Dr. W.'s death. Soon after this event, 
several of Dr. W.'s families employed me as their physician. 
Some of these had been families of Drs. M. & W., when in 
partnership. I had occasion to meet Dr. M. frequently, and 
he appeared friendly as usual. I visited several of his pa- 
tients with and for him, and always called him when I needed 
counsel. 

In the early part of January last, a report reached me that 
Dr. M. had made an unkind remark concerning me, but inas- 
much as he had made no complaint to myself, I supposed he 
had no unkind feelings toward me. I called Dr. M. in con- 
sultation on the 16th or 17th of February — he attended with 
me for five or six days — appeared friendly as usual — made no 
complaints, nor asked for a single explanation. Not long after 
this period, I was informed from a reliable source that Dr. M. 
made complaints against me. Soon after hearing of those 
remarks, I called upon him for an explanation. He said he 
did feel hard toward me. I stated to him at this interview, 
that I felt conscious I had neither, by word or deed, inten- 
tionally wronged him, and if he could show me that I had, 
I would make him the most humble and public acknow- 
ledgment. I requested him to give me specific charges, but 
he declined, and said he would see me again on the subject. 
This he failed to do, and redoubled his complaints, both in 
and out of the profession. Finding myself unable to obtain 
a reconciliation by personal efforts, I asked for, and obtained, 
this committee. I would here state that up to the present 
time, I have never made an unkind remark concerning Dr. 
M. : on the contrary, I respect him as my teacher and former 



[ o] 

friend, and regret that in defending myself I shall be com- 
pelled to cast some reflections upon his course toward me. 



CHARGE I. 

" Dr. Potter insinuated that the treatment of Dr. Worces^ 
ter by Drs. Mussey & Wright was not quite what it ought 
to be. The person to whom this insinuation was made, 
remarked to Dr. Potter — if you know of anything that will 
save our friend, why not have it done ? or words to that ef- 
fect. Dr. P. replied that he was a young man, and there 
were two professors of the Medical College of Ohio in atten- 
dance, and they ought to know." 

Answer. To this charge I can conscientiously say, that I 
have no recollection of insinuating that the treatment of 
Profs. Mussey & Wright " was not quite what it ought to be." 

Respecting the second remark, or that I was a young man, 
&c, I have no recollection, but if such remark was made, it 
was made in sincerity and honesty, believing those gentlemen 
ought to know, and did know, better than myself, I have no 
idea who the person is to whom the above remarks were said 
to have been made, but with due deference to him, I must 
say this charge contains an impression never intended to have 
been given. 

Note. The only evidence you presented to support this charge, 
was a letter from your son, Dr. B. F. Mussey, of Portsmouth. I 
am at a loss to know when he discovered that I had treated you with 
disrespect. After his marriage, and before leaving the city, he 
remarked to a gentleman who still resides here, that he supposed I 
would like to become your partner in business, and that such an 
arrangement might possibly be made. 

Since writing my answer to the above charge, I have a recollec- 
tion of standing upon the steps of the office of Drs. M. & W., in 
company with Dr. B. F. M., when a friend of Dr. W. called to 
ascertain his condition. Dr. B. F. M. referred him to me, remark- 
ing that I had watched with him the night before. My answer was, 



m 

he is no better. The gentleman then demanded, can nothing be 
done to save our friend ? I have cdntinued my acquaintance with 
that gentleman since the death of Dr. W., and he authorizes me to 
state that his feelings of respect for Dr. M. and his anxiety for Dr. 
W. were such, that if an answer had been given such as the above 
charge contains, it would have made an impression upon his mind 
that he could not have failed to remember. He authorizes me, 
moreover, to state, that he has not the slightest recollection of any 
such language, or of any language tor manner, on my part, incon- 
sistent with the utmost delicacy and respect toward Profs. Mussey 
& Wright. The gentleman referred to above adds the following : 
" The above, so far as it refers to me, is correct." 



CHARGE II. 

" Paying his consulting visits in anticipation of the consult- 
ing hour." 

Answer. This, I suppose, has reference to our attendance 
upon the children of Mr. P. in June, '47. Dr. M. was in at- 
tendance, but having occasion to go into the country, request- 
ed Mrs. P., if the children required attention during his ab- 
sence, to send for his son William — to which Mrs. P. replied, 
" I wish to send for Dr. Potter." I was sent for and attend- 
ed during his absence. When he returned, I called with him 
at Mr. P's for the purpose of giving an account of my treat- 
ment. The following night the state of the patients was 
such that a physician was needed, and Dr. Mussey being at 
Mount Auburn, I was again called. At that time Mr. P. re- 
quested that I should take charge of the patients. I declined, 
and for no other reason than my respect for the feelings of 
Dr. M. Mr. P. then proposed that I should attend with Dr. 
M. To this I consented. I made seven visits in connection 
with him, and Mrs. P. thinks that during that time I arrived 
once or twice before him, but refused to examine the patients 
or give an opinion. 

The charge that I arrived before the consulting hour, I be- 
lieve to be incorrect. 



[8 ] 

The following note is from Mr. P. 

"I have read the aforegoing statement, and declare it sub- 
stantially correct." 

CHARGE III. 

" Paying a visit to a patient to whom he had been called 
in consultation, after the joint treatment had been suspended." 

Answer. This refers to Mr. S., who died on Locke St. in 
July, 1847. The following account is a condensed statement 
of a paper by Mr. A. S., brother of the deceased. Mr. A. S. 
came to my office and requested me to visit his brother, 
stating at the same time, that Dr. M. was in attendance. 
Mr. S. said if I would visit his brother, and thought I could 
be of service to him, he should become my patient. I refused 
to visit him except in company with Dr. M. Dr. M. and my- 
self made a joint visit the same day (Friday), and a second 
visit on the Sunday morning following. This was Dr. M's. 
last visit to Mr. S. On Tuesday morning following, two days 
after our last joint visit, I was passing the residence of Mr. 
S. on my way to meet Dr. M. in consultation. Mr. S. called 
me, said his brother was in a state of stupor, and wished me 
to see him. He informed me that Dr. M. had not been there 
since our last visit on Sunday. I saw the patient, but did not 
make a prescription. When I met Dr. M., I told him Mr. S. 
was still alive, and of my call. Mr. A. S. and sister assure 
me that neither of them have seen Dr. M. since our last joint 
visit on Sunday morning. 

How then could he have known, when he wrote this 
charge, that the joint treatment had been suspended when I 
called on Tuesday? 

[Note from A. S.] 
" I have read the above, and declare it correct." 



[ 9 J 

CHARGE IV. 

11 Making a friendly visit in a family during the attendance 
of another physician." 

Answer. This charge refers to the family of Mr. C. H. Mr. 
H. and family were among my earliest acquaintances in this 
city, and from them I had received much kindness. Previous 
to his leaving for the East, last season, Mr. H. and myself 
bought an undivided interest of five thousand dollars each, in 
a piece of property. This circumstance brought us more or 
less together. He left here with the intention of going to 
Boston, but before reaching the lake he had the misfortune to 
fracture his arm, and returned to the city. Five days after 
his return, I called to see him. I had been in the house but a 
few minutes, when Dr. M. came in. His visit was short. I 
left with Dr. M., and rode with him to my office. If Dr. M. 
considered this a breach of etiquette, he should have told me 
so at the time, knowing that I consulted him on all profes- 
sional matters. This is the only instance where I have visited 
a family during the attendance of another physician, know- 
ing there was sickness in the family ; and should not have done 
so in this instance, except for the friendly professional inter- 
course that existed between Dr. M. and myself. Mr. C. H. 
adds the following note : 

" 1 have perused the foregoing statement, and so far as it 
relates to me, it is substantially correct." 

CHARGE V. 

" Taking advantage of professional confidence by tamper- 
ing with a patient left in his charge during my visit to Colum- 
bus in May, 1847." 

Answer. This case occurred in the family of Mr. D. W. 
My recollection of it being indistinct, I took occasion to call 
upon the family, accompanied by a medical friend. We saw 
Mrs. W. in company with her husband, and were informed 



[ io •] 

that Dr. M., with another physician, had waited upon them 
about three weeks before. Mr. W. stated that he knew 
nothing personally, but requested his wife to state exactly 
what she had previously stated to Dr. M. Her statement was 
to this effect : that I had spent the entire night in attendance 
upon her, and when 1 was about leaving in the morning, she 
asked if there could be nothing given to relieve her. My 
answer was, that I would talk with Dr. M., and see what 
could be done. We met there, and a medicine was given 
which afforded relief. After she was better, she asked why 
that medicine was not given before. My answer was, I should 
have given it had she been my patient, she understanding that 
I did not wish to take the responsibility of giving it to his 
patient in his absence. On being asked if I referred to any 
particular medicine to which Dr. M. had an aversion, she re- 
plied that no such reference was made, and that she did not 
know what the medicine was. On being asked if she received 
any impression that I was unfriendly to Dr. M., or that I was 
acting against his interest, she replied that neither herself or 
friends received any such impression ; on the contrary, she 
believed 1 was very friendly to Dr. M. She further stated 
that she voluntarily remarked to Dr. M., that she was sure 
what I had said was not intended to injure him; to which he 
replied," that is not your business, I want his words." On be- 
ing questioned if she had mentioned my remarks to any one, 
she readily answered that she had not spoken of it, or even 
thought of it, until told recently by her mother that Dr. M. 
would wait on her in reference to it. It may not be out of 
place to remark here, that notwithstanding Mr. W. said he 
knew nothing of the affair personally, he stated that the con- 
versation was not made known to Dr. M. by Mrsi W\, but 
had its origin, as he understood, in a recent conversation be- 
tween his mother-in-law and Dr. M., when the latter com- 
plained of ill treatment received from Dr. Potter. 

[Note from Dr. S.\ 
"Being the medical friend referred to in the above state- 



[ 11 ] 

ment, 1 hereby declare that it is substantially correct, and I 
am willing to give my affidavit to that effect." 

I now add the following note from Messrs. P. & L. : 

" We, the undersigned, called upon Mr. W., and read the 
above statement to him, which he said was true and correct." 



CHARGE VI. 

** Uncalled-for insinuations respecting an unfortunate case 
of apoplexy — giving currency to improper gossip about said 
case." 

Answer. This refers to what passed between Mr. D. and 
myself on the 21st or 22d of February last. I have had more 
or less intercourse with Mr. D., and have known for some 
time of his friendly feelings toward Dr. M. Mr. D. called 
me to his family, and while there various matters were passed 
in review — letheon, chloroform, &c. When speaking of those 
agents having produced death, I spoke of the report then in 
circulation, that Dr. M. had given too much morphia. I did 
not suppose I was giving currency to a gossip, but speaking 
to one who had an interest in Dr. M.'s welfare. I stated at 
the time that I had no belief in the report, and intended telling 
Dr. M. of what I had heard, that he might take such steps as 
he deemed necessary with a view of having it contradicted. 
Mr. D. expressly states that he related the conversation to 
Dr. M. from the same consideration that had actuated me, 
thinking that I might forget to do it He also stated to me 
that he was surprised Dr. M. should notice the circumstance 
as he did. I met Dr. M. the morning following my visit to 
Mr. D's, and related to him what I had heard. On the 16th 
of February, five days previous to the occurrence upon which 
this charge is founded, Dr. M. was called, by my own request, 
to attend a patient with me, and we were still in attendance 
upon the case when this offence is said to have been commit- 
ted. I will also state, that during our attendance upon this 



[ 12] 

case Dr. M. treated me with kindness and respect, no circum- 
stance having occurred that should change my feelings to- 
ward him. In conclusion, I appeal to the good sense of the 
committee and of the Society, and respectfully ask if those 
remarks, made under the circumstances, could have been 
prompted by ill feelings and a desire to injure? 

The following was added by Mr. D. : 

"I have read the above, and so far as it refers to me, be- 
lieve it correct." 



CHARGE VII. 

" Conveying an unfounded impression that the views of his 
consulting physicians in the case of Mr. E. were not sustained 
by post-mortem appearances, and that he, and not they, were 
correct." 

Answer. It will be necessary to state the important points- 
in this case. I was called to Mr. E. on the 20th of July, '47. 
He was then suffering from what I called intermittent. He 
had slight cough. On examination of the chest, I found res- 
piration feeble over one lung. On the 24th, by the request of 
Mr. E., I called Dr. M. in consultation. After prescribing, he 
said to the patient, " You have a remittent, but I think you 
will recover." On a subsequent visit, we were detained a 
short time by a shower of rain. During our detention, Dr. 
M. and Mrs. E. were in consultation in an adjoining parlour. 
I was in attendance upon Mr. E. until the 4th of August. 1 
then informed him that, inasmuch as he had had no chill for 
several days, he did not require my daily visits, but he could 
let me know if the chills should return. Several days after 
my last visit, not having heard from him, I called at his house. 
I found him in bed, and was informed that Dr. M. was in at- 
tendance. I saw nothing of the case afterward, until called 
to attend the post-mortem examination. 

During my attendance upon Mr. E. he desired a more ac- 
tive mercurial treatment. I declined, and gave as a reason 



[ 18 ] 

that I believed his lungs were his weak point, and he should 
avoid mercurials as much as possible. 

After the death of Mr. E it was stated to his friends that 
he died of disease of the heart. Of this I complained, and 
stated to a friend of Mr. E. that, inasmuch as the lungs were 
diseased as well as the heart, it should be so reported. 

I never have said that " the views of my consulting physi- 
cians were incorrect." I had but one consulting physician 
— Dr. M. I have never known what his views of the case 
were after I left. 

During our joint attendance, our attention was not directed 
to the heart, there being no symptoms to lead us to suppose 
that organ diseased. Whether the patient subsequently pre- 
sented symptoms of diseased heart, so as to draw the attention 
of his physicians to that organ, I have never been informed. 

Note. — The only evidence you was able to obtain to support 
this charge was, a letter from a young gentleman who stated that he 
heard a conversation between Mrs. B., Mr. V., and myself, at the 
house of Mr. B. 

The following notes are from the persons with whom I was 
speaking : 

[Note from Mr. B.] 

" Dear Sir, — Mrs. B. authorizes me to say that she has no re- 
collection of having heard you speak disrespectfully of Dr. Mus- 
sey, or of his mode of practice, either in the case of Mr. E., or of 
any other, and she is confident, from her relations with the family 
of Mr. E., during his last illness, that she could not have forgotten 
it had such remarks been made in her presence. 

" Yours, respectfully." 

[Note from Mr. V.] 
" Dr. Potter : 

" Dear Sir, — In answer to your inquiries in relation to a con- 
versation between yourself and Mrs. B., in my presence, I can 
only say that I do not now recollect the particulars. I do remem- 
ber that you'spoke of Mr. E's disease as found upon post-mortem 



[ 14] 

•examination. I do not recollect of your saying anything deroga- 
tory to the character of Dr. Mussey as a physician. Had you done 
ho, I think it would have made an impression upon my mind that 
I should not have forgotten, as I have always had the highest 
esteem for the character of Dr. M., and have the utmost confidence 
in his skill as a physician. 

"Respectfully yours." 

I have deemed it proper to withhold the names of the per- 
sons referred to in the charges and the answers, although I 
have them in full in manuscript. As you are well acquainted 
with ail of them, you will readily know to whom I refer. 
They are all of the highest respectability, and I am under 
many obligations to them for the prompt and honorable man- 
ner in which they have answered my inquiries. 

The above are all the charges you preferred against me. I 
now submit both charges and answers to the decision of the 
profession. I am, Sir, 

Yours respectfully, 

J. F. POTTER.